ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota court on May 21 affirmed a $3.7 million asbestos verdict, rejecting a defendant's claim that experts testified that every exposure to asbestos caused disease, that the expert testimony did not support the verdict and that the court should have applied 2003 amendments to the joint and several liability standard (Jenella Conda v. 3M, et al., Nos. A17-1381, A17-2040, Minn. App., 2018 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 423).
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - A South Carolina jury on May 24 heard from dueling experts over whether cosmetic talcum powder exposes an individual to asbestos and whether the product's usage could lead to pericardial mesothelioma (Bertila Boyd-Bostic v. Imerys Talc America, et al., No. 17-CP-16-0400, S.C. Cir., Darlington Co.)
WEST COVINA, Calif. - A California jury on May 24 added $4 million in punitive damages to an asbestos-tainted talc verdict against Johnson & Johnson, bringing the total verdict to $25.75 million, sources told Mealey's Publications. The company has now been hit with more than $142 million in damages a little more than a month (Joanne Anderson, et al. Borg Warner Corp., et al., BC666513, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont Gov. Phil Scott on May 22 vetoed a bill that would have held any person who released a toxic substance strictly, jointly and severally liable for any harm resulting from the release and would have established a private right of action for medical monitoring, saying there is nothing that currently keeps an individual from seeking judicial recourse for medical monitoring.
PHILADELPHIA - Efforts by a Pennsylvania man suffering from emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to sue, personally, the president and chief executives of three tobacco companies were dismissed May 21 by a Pennsylvania federal judge (Ted. A. McCracken v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-4495, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84573).
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 22 returned a verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., deeming the tobacco companies primarily responsible for the lung cancer death of Edward "Fred" Theis; one day later, on May 23, the jury awarded his widow $14 million in punitive damages (Faye Theis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-001941-NC, Fla. 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A 2014 law providing for enhanced workers' compensation benefits for mesothelioma victims applies in a case where an insurer and employer specifically agreed to cover future claims and does not act retroactively, Missouri's Supreme Court held May 22 (Accident Fund Insurance Co., et al. v. Robert Casey, et al., No. SC96899, Mo. Sup.).
TRENTON, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on May 22 bifurcated a trial to determine the amount of restoration costs companies who sold gasoline containing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should pay to remediate groundwater, finding that a jury should determine the amount of future costs the companies should pay followed by a bench trial to determine past costs (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, et al. v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85514).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A widow on May 18 asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review whether her husband's settlement involving Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) nonmalignant pulmonary disease claims can bar her subsequent action alleging he contracted and died of lung cancer, after both the trial and intermediate appellate court concluded that it did (Margaret Jarrett, et al. v. Consolidated Rail Corp., No. 210 EAL 2018, Pa. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 21 ruled that a group of Pennsylvania residents had a valid negligence claim against the makers of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) related to groundwater contamination, but the judge said the plaintiffs did not sufficiently plead property damage (Larry Menkes, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 17-0573, E.D. Pa.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85113).
NEW ORLEANS - A shipyard on May 21 filed a notice of appeal in yet another case in which a judge remanded an asbestos action after finding allegations of negligent failure to warn about the presence of asbestos outside the federal officer removal statute (James A. Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 17-11770, E.D. La.).
NEW ORLEANS - A company's shell-dredging operations in Louisiana in 1973 keep a company in an asbestos action, a federal judge held May 18 in declining to impose a temporal limitation to the specific jurisdiction analysis (Robert Schindler v. Dravo Basic Materials Company Inc., No. 17-013013, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83922).
LOS ANGELES - A federal jury in California on May 17 issued a take-nothing judgment in favor of a chemical company that had been sued by the city of Pomona, Calif., which alleged that the company was liable for contaminating the city's drinking water with perchlorate (Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation, No. 11-167, C.D. Calif.).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Asserting violations of the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA), negligence and other torts, a New Jersey man who suffered burns when his vaping device exploded in the pockets of his pants filed suit in the Middlesex County Superior Court on May 18 (Jesse Kelly, Jr. v. I South Vape LLC, et al., No. MID-L-003092-18, N.J .Super., Middlesex Co.).
CHICAGO - The absence of evidence of General Electric Co.'s asbestos-containing products in Illinois defeats specific personal jurisdiction, and the company's contacts with the state are not large enough to create general personal jurisdiction, a state appeals court held May 18 while declining to adopt jurisdiction by necessity (Arlin Campbell, et al. v. Acme Insulation Inc., et al., No. 1-17-3051, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 294).
SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah appeals court panel on May 17 overturned two rulings by a lower court judge that excluded evidence and testimony about what materials are subject to cleanup as part of a city's sale of a parcel of land to a developer, holding that the trial court judge misapplied an earlier appeals court ruling in the case, as well as the Utah Rules of Evidence (Northgate Village Development LLC v. Orem City, No. 20160408-CA, Utah App., 2019 Utah App. LEXIS 98).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal appeals court panel in the District of Columbia on May 18 vacated a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that placed an Indianapolis site on the National Priorities List (NPL) after finding that the agency ignored evidence and erroneously determined that two aquifers were connected (Genuine Parts Co. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1416, 16-1418, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12901).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 21 upheld a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling finding that the failure to submit claim forms along with the required documentation to obtain compensation from the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) rendered the claims untimely (In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30544, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 21 refused to hear an appeal of a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a group of residents who contended that a lower court erred when it held that the U.S. Army's waste disposal and remediation practices at Fort Detrick fall squarely within the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) (Angela Pieper v. United States, No. 17-1324, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON - The city of Westfield, Mass., on May 18 filed a brief in Massachusetts federal court contending that a motion to dismiss filed by 3M Co. and other companies related to groundwater contamination from the manufacture and use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) should be rejected because the claim is not barred by the statute of limitations (City of Westfield, Massachusetts v. 3M, et al., No. 18-30027, D. Mass.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - In a May 18 per curiam ruling, the Second District Florida Court of Appeal left intact an $8 million award rendered by jurors in May 2016 on behalf of the family of a deceased smoker, just over one week after hearing oral arguments in the Engle progeny case (James C. McCabe v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D17-797, Fla. App. 2nd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 6947).
MIAMI - In a May 15 order, a Florida state court judge granted a plaintiff leave to amend his Engle progeny complaint in order to add a claim for punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., rejecting the tobacco companies' assertion that such an amendment would be premature (Michael Jordan Lipp, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-018509-CA-10, Fla. 11th Jud Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
NEW YORK - A New York state appeals court on May 15 affirmed a trial court's denial of summary judgment in a lead exposure lawsuit, saying the record demonstrates that lead abatement did not begin until after the plaintiff was diagnosed with high blood-lead levels (Christopher Brown v. Wendy Webb-Weber, et al., Nos. 159252/14 and 595628/16, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3446).
LOS ANGELES - Factually devoid discovery responses and questionable chain of custody over allegedly asbestos-tainted talc samples sinks a man's case, a California appeals court affirmed May 16 (John Wittman v. Coty Inc., No. B286135, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - Technical deficiencies in a complaint are not evidence of improper joinder, and a woman will need discovery to flesh out her claims against a retailer she claims sold asbestos-tainted talc, a federal judge in Louisiana held in finding joinder proper and remanding the case on May 17 (Marilyn Rousseau v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 18-2922, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83230).